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Joe Santoro

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November 9, 2012
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Friday Fodder: Wolf Pack defense needs to stop making excuses

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .The Nevada Wolf Pack football team's defense is in intensive care. Long lost relatives and friends have been alerted. The Pack defense is on death watch and the priest is sitting across the hall waiting for someone to tell him to administer last rites. Will we have to send our condolences and flowers on Sunday morning after the Pack flatlines on Saturday night against Fresno State? It would seem like the Wolf Pack defense is going into a knife fight armed only with water balloons and nasty knock knock jokes. That is why we're picking the Pack to win. The humiliating loss to Air Force on Oct. 26 was a wakeup call that has not stopped for two weeks. "Good morning, Wolf Pack defense. This is your wakeup call. The time to stop making excuses is now." Wolf Pack, 38-28. Never underestimate the value of a well-timed wakeup call.

• • •

The Wolf Pack defense was embarrassed physically at Air Force. Air Force looked them in the eye and told them, "We're tougher than you. We're more disciplined than you. We're going to run the ball down your throat." And the Pack slumped to the ground and fell into a fetal position. The Pack stayed upright for the full 15-round fight but that's only because Air Force tied their gloves to the ropes so they could pound them until the final bell. We will find out Saturday night if this Pack defense has any toughness or grit left. The season is on the line. Coach's jobs might be on the line. Playing careers are on the line. It's time to cowboy up, Pack defense, and put the battle back in battle born.

• • •

This is who should win major league baseball's top awards: Miguel Cabrera (A.L. MVP), Ryan Braun (N.L. MVP), R.A. Dickey (N.L. Cy Young), David Price (A.L. Cy Young), Mike Trout (A.L. Rookie of the Year), Bryce Harper (N.L. rookie), Bruce Bochy (N.L. manager), Buck Showalter (A.L. manager). Cabrera won the triple crown, Braun did it without Prince Fielder, Harper was 19-years-old, Bochy and Showalter had 80-win talent at best, Dickey had the year of his life at 37-years-old, Price gave up more than three earned runs just three times all year.

• • •

There was a lot to like about the Wolf Pack men's basketball team in their exhibition victory over Oregon Tech on Tuesday. The new guys - Marqueze Coleman, Cole Huff and Ali Fall - all had some nice moments. But there was also a lot to be concerned about. Oregon Tech, first of all, would lose to Bishop Gorman High School by 25. The Pack didn't rebound well or handle the ball well. And that was because they didn't play hard or with any intensity. Again, it was just an exhibition game and it means absolutely nothing. But if this team wants to survive the Mountain West it has to play a little harder at both ends of the floor.

• • •

From what we saw against Oregon Tech, Ali Fall needs to be starting right now. Kevin Panzer and Devonte Elliott, the supposed replacements in the frontcourt for Olek Czyz and Dario Hunt, had a mediocre night at best. Neither one of them went out on the court and seized the moment. Fall is physically stronger than both of them put together and isn't afraid to score down low. Elliott will get blocks and rebounds just because he's 6-foot-10. And Panzer is the best shooter of the three when he plays with confidence. But it doesn't look like any of them will play the 30-plus minutes and flirt with a double-double that Hunt and Czyz gave the Pack most every night.

• • •

The Atlanta Falcons have a clear path to a perfect 16-0 regular season. Their toughest challenges the rest of the way, it seems, are home and away games against the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants at home. That's about it. But the Falcons could go 16-0 and get wiped out of the playoffs in their first game. They are 8-0 but five of their wins have been by seven points or less and they've beaten just one team (Denver at 5-3) that has a winning record right now. The Falcons have the best record but they are only fifth in the NFL in point differential behind the Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. If the NFL had a BCS system, the Falcons wouldn't get picked for the title game right now.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Nov 9, 2012 03:37AM Published Nov 9, 2012 03:36AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.